The New International Encyclopædia/Morgan, John Hunt

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MORGAN, John Hunt (1825-64). An American soldier, prominent on the Confederate side in the Civil War. He was born at Huntsville, Ala. About five years later his father removed to a farm near Lexington, Ky. During the Mexican War Morgan became first lieutenant of Colonel Marshall's Kentucky regiment of cavalry, but saw little active service. Though he had a prosperous manufacturing business, in 1861 he abandoned it and escaped to the Confederate lines with about two hundred men and the guns of the militia company of which he was captain. At first he did irregular duty, chietly scouting, but was later made captain and placed in command of three companies of cavalry called Morgan's Squadron. With these he did duty in Kentucky and Tennessee, and to some extent in Alabama. He organized the Second Cavalry at Chattanooga, in April, 1862, becoming colonel. During the summer he served with General Bragg in Tennessee, and captured Lexington, Ky. His success in daring and unexpected raids was so great that he was placed in charge of a cavalry brigade, and after promotion to brigadier-general made the ‘Christmas Raid’ into Kentucky, for which he was thanked by the Confederate Congress. In June, 1863, he was ordered to attempt to draw off Rosecrans from Tennessee by an expedition into Kentucky. He exceeded his orders, and with about 2,500 men crossed the Ohio River into Indiana and swept around Cincinnati, closely pursued by Generals Hobson and Shackelford, and opposed everywhere by the militia. A sudden rise in the Ohio River allowed gunboats to reach Bullington Island and prevented him from recrossing the river. Here about 700 of his men were taken prisoners, two companies succeeded in crossing the river, and he with the remainder set out toward the Pennsylvania border to join General Lee. After an exciting chase he was captured, and was afterwards confined in the Ohio State Prison at Columbus. On November 27th, with a few companions, he escaped, and reached the Confederate lines in safety. In January, 1864, he was authorized to reorganize his cavalry, and was assigned to the Department of Southwest Virginia. When relieved he resumed his independent command, and captured Mount Sterling and Cynthiana in Kentucky in June, but was badly defeated by General Burbridge. On September 4th, in Greenville, Tenn., he was betrayed by an inmate of the house in which he was sleeping, and was shot while attempting to escape. General Morgan cared little for formal military tactics; but in ability to strike silently and unexpectedly and escape before an alarm could be raised, he has been excelled by few leaders of cavalry. While he destroyed public property, burned bridges, and usually took the best horses in the country, the outrages committed by him have been much exaggerated. Consult: Duke, History of Morgan's Cavalry (Cincinnati, 1867), and Johnson and Buel (eds.), The Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (New York, 1887).